The Hybrid Work Model Increases Productivity, But It Can Be Improved Further — Andy Sto

Companies with a rigid work structure and inflexible corporate hierarchy used to be not only the norm but entirely ubiquitous across industries and countries. But eventually, businesses began to change, but the change was extremely slow at first. The first documented deviation from the traditional organizational structure and work arrangement was a German aerospace manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm that introduced the idea of “flextime” in 1967 to combat traffic, tardiness, and absenteeism. The same year this concept spread to an HP manufacturing plant also located in Germany where they introduced their own flexible scheduling where employees could work the 40 hours per week in four 10-hour days, rather than five 8-hour days. It continued to spread throughout Europe, while in the United States, stricter regulations and labor unions prevented a deviation from the 8-hour workday.

While concepts like horizontal organizational structure were still a way off in the 1970s, the idea of telecommuting was introduced by Jack Nilles, which one could say is the father of teleworking and telecommuting. This is because he was perhaps the first to research the subject and in fact coined both terms telecommuting, and teleworking and wrote the cardinal work on the subject, The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff.

Nowadays, companies around the world are trying to incorporate more flexible working arrangements that suit both the employee and the employer. It seems that nearly 50 years on is when Jack Nilles ideas are entering the mainstream. And the feedback from various companies and employees (and forced office closures) has shown that not only does flexible remote working or telecommuting have a positive impact on transportation-related externalities, but also a positive impact on employee happiness and overall productivity. And while the hybrid work model increases productivity, it can be improved further.

Data Shows That the Hybrid Work Model Increases Productivity

Regarding productivity, the data is still limited to some extent, but the productivity of employees and an organization as a whole that utilizes a hybrid work model may depend on the amount of time they have used this model. 2020 has given some researchers the opportunity to understand this better. McKinsey Consulting conducted a survey in May 2020 and found that in nine months of remote working experience, more employers were seeing somewhat better productivity from their remote workers.

In another survey, which was conducted by The Conference Board, found mixed results when asking about productivity before and during the pandemic. They found that for companies that previously didn’t have many people working remotely (less than 10%), 41% of those companies reported decreased productivity. While 41% reported no change in productivity, and 19% reported increased productivity. Conversely, however, in those companies that previously had more than 10% of their workforce working remotely, there were more positive results. 37% of the organizations had an increase in productivity, while 43% reported no change and only 20% had decreased productivity.

One can infer from the results of the two surveys that with proper implementation and allowing some time for an organization to get used to a hybrid model, productivity can increase. Employees are more adaptable than previously imagined, if organizations are also adaptable, they can reap the rewards.

We can also look at the impact that a hybrid work model has on an organization from a different angle, from a more macro perspective. The Accenture survey previously mentioned, found that “63% of high-growth organizations have enabled productivity anywhere workforce models”. That is, a significant majority of successful organizations have put general productivity over where their employees work. On the other hand, they found that “69% of negative or no-growth companies are still focused on where people are going to physically work”. Meaning that an even higher majority of poorly performing organizations put higher stress on the work environment.

Implement New Ways of Thinking to Guide Your Flexible Workplace

Improve Trust

Emphasize Interpersonal Connectivity

This is also a benefit of the hybrid work model compared to its fully remote counterpart. By mixing both remote work and the in-person experience, you can bring back the true interpersonal connectivity that can be difficult to achieve in a decentralized workspace.

While simply incorporating both remote work and in-person work can help to improve interpersonal connectivity, another way to emphasize and improve interpersonal connectivity is through non-work-related activities that allow peers to interact in a social environment, rather than a professional one.

Increase Digital Fluency

Make Resources More Accessible to Remote Workers

The other resource aspect to be considered is the service side. This means that remote or hybrid workers should still have the same access to the resources of in-person employees. This can include technical support, human resources, as well as a way to provide feedback and provide insights.

5 Steps to Improve Productivity in A Hybrid Work Model

1. Sort

You should first separate what you need from what you don’t need. If you didn’t use something the previous year, it’s likely you won’t ever use it. This is the same for the “just in case” items that you never use. For what you use frequently, keep it in a handy place. For what you will need later, store it. Also, delineate a process to sort documents and files that work for you having multiple workstations.

2. Store

The alignment between sorting and storing should match with the tasks you’ll likely be doing in each place. Keep the tools and documents necessary at the respective desk. Each item should have a “home” in each of the desks as well.

3. Shine

4. Standardize

5. Self-organize

The hybrid work model increases productivity, but it can be improved further. Hybrid work models are here to stay, and the utilization of them is only going to increase judging from the data. The successful implementation of a methodology like 5S and implementing a paradigm shift that’s beneficial to the hybrid model can further improve the productivity of the hybrid work model.

Originally published at https://andysto.com on July 10, 2021.

Digital Nomad focused in #remotework and #digitalnomadism